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06.14.2019 Drew Bartek

Used Jet Ski Buyers Guide

When buying a Jet Ski there are a number of things that you should look for to ensure that you are getting a quality PWC that will last.  We are going to go through things that you need to look out for and consider before making a purchase.

used jetski
How much is this going to Cost? 

This should be a question you should know before going into any purchase.  Before you go out and see the watercraft in person you should determine how much you can afford and what you can expect to pay for the vehicle.  There’s two great sites to use that can help you come up with a ballpark of what to pay: KBB Watercraft and NADA Watercraft. These will give you an idea of what you should be willing to pay.  If there are any repairs that are needed you can take that plus a little more off the KBB price.

What to look for in Person:

The first thing we will go over is the misconception that the number of hours on the engine is the most important factor.  You might have heard people state that a Jet Ski is made to last for only 300 hours. Although hours are important what shape the PWC is in is much more important.  Owners that don’t take care of their watercraft skipping maintenance or not getting it winterized can shorten the life significantly. I’ve seen some watercrafts go out with under 50 hours on them.  

One way to check the quality of the craft is by checking the compression of each cylinder.  Each cylinder should be above 100PSI and be close to each others levels. Low compression means that the engine is blown. A pressure gauge kit can be purchased at Walmart or on Amazon for about $20.  This simple check can save you lots of time in money, if the watercraft doesn’t meet the standards, pass on it.

You should request receipts if they have them of the yearly service that was done to the vehicle.  It is surprising how many people end up skipping oil changes or getting their craft winterized. If the seller has taken really good care of their watercraft and has a record of all the work that has been done on the PWC, there is no reason why you wouldn’t purchase a watercraft with high hours on it.  

When it comes to jet skis you have two different types 2-stroke engine and 4-stroke engines.  The 2-stroke engines are typically older models as most manufacturers have switched to exclusively 4-stroke engines over the last 10 years.  The life span difference can be drastic between the two. A nice lifespan for a 2-stroke engine is breaking 300-400 hours. Where a 4-stroke engine can surpass 1,000 hours if it is taken care of properly.

Warning signs:

Look for wear and tear, a person that takes care of their jet ski and it looks like it is well kept, is much more likely to do the required maintenance compared to someone who was too lazy to put a cover on.  If the seats are torn up this can be a warning sign that they didn’t always put a cover on it. If they didn’t do that, odds are they skipped out on other maintenance and care of the watercraft. Always be mindful of how old the craft is, if it is over 5 years old don’t expect everything to look new.  Wear and tear does happen with regular use. The fiberglass is usually damaged as docking a jet ski can be difficult. If there is a lot of fiberglass damage be careful especially if it is on the bottom of the PWC. If there is any missing fiberglass parts on the lower to bottom part, it is wise to walk away.  Look for rust and corrosion as this is often associated with electrical problems. Electrical problems are not something you want to deal with and can be an expensive repair.

Having a second opinion on it can be wise.  When you buy a used car you often take it to your mechanic.  You can do the same thing with a jet ski, ask your local dealer if they can take a look at it.  They will be much more familiar with the various models and can notice damage.

Make sure you get your local dealer to check it out before you write the check. Your dealer will know about all the quirks about that particular model and can tell you things that you might have overlooked. Your dealer can also check the compression and pump for any damage.

Go out and ride it:

I hope that before you buy any vehicle that you would go out and ride it, jet skis are no exception, make sure you get out on the water and test it out.  When testing it go full throttle and see if there are any issues with the take off. You can watch the RPM’s to ensure that they are at appropriate levels depending on the jet ski.  The last thing you want to happen is not tetst it and buy the watercraft to only find out a problem when you take it out for the first ride on your own.

What about music options for Jet Ski's 

Another thing that people buying old jet skis think about is how they are going to listen to music with their new watercraft.  Most used jet skis won't come equipped with a sound system and the ones that do might be outdated.  We have created a jet ski vest with integrated speakers, bringing loud and clear music to your ride.  We call it the Groove Vest, it has built in memory and control buttons on the front.  You no longer need to worry about having your phone around to change a song or be worried about water getting into the storage cubby and ruining your phone.  The Groove Vest will be hitting the water everywhere summer of 2020!

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Published by Drew Bartek June 14, 2019
Drew Bartek